Paul Krugman, getting less serious by the minute, on the budget deal:
It’s worth noting that this follows just a few months after another big concession, in which [Obama] gave in to Republican demands for tax cuts. The net effect of these two sets of concessions is, of course, a substantial increase in the deficit.
Well, no, actually. The net effect of these concessions is a (small but not insignificant) cut in spending coupled with a (somewhat larger) set of tax cuts.
To sum that up by saying that the “net effect” is an increase in the deficit is like saying that if a woman gives birth to twins and then murders her husband, the “net effect” is to increase the population. We’re entitled to care about more than just the bottom line.
What if the spending cuts and tax cuts had both been substantially larger — say, $2000 per American per year in spending cuts coupled with $2000 per American per year in tax cuts? Would Krugman have pronounced “no net effect” and moved on? No, I quite guarantee you that he’d be railing about the heartlessness of the spending cuts — proving that even he knows that the level of taxes and the level of spending are of separate interest.
Yet when it happens to suit his rhetorical purposes, he pretends that only the difference matters. He might as well just announce that he’s not even trying to be serious.